Berkshire, Baystate Recognized as Leaders in LGBT Healthcare Equality

WESTERN MASS. — Berkshire Medical Center and Baystate Health have each been recognized as a “Leader in LGBT Healthcare Equality” in the Healthcare Equality Index 2013, an annual survey conducted by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation, the educational arm of the country’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) organization.
Both Berkshire and Baystate earned top marks for its commitment to equitable, inclusive care for LGBT patients and their families, who can face significant challenges in securing adequate healthcare.
“We live and work in an area known for both its beauty and its diversity, and the staff at Berkshire Medical Center is committed to providing the highest level of quality care for all in our community,” said Diane Kelly, chief operating officer. “This is a remarkable distinction, and I am proud of our entire staff. It is the dedication they show each and every day in the care of each and every patient that has led to this and our many other national recognitions.”
Meanwhile, Baystate Health has been recognized for the third consecutive year in the Healthcare Equality Index 2013 report, receiving a perfect rating for its inclusive policies and treatment of LGBT people throughout its Western Mass. network.
“Baystate Health is proud once again to be recognized by the Human Rights Campaign for our commitment in providing quality patient experiences to the LGBT community. We also take pride in our demonstrated equitable hiring practices resulting in making Baystate Health an LGBT-friendly workplace,” said Andres Gonzalez, chief diversity officer for Baystate Health.
The index assists hospitals in assessing themselves against established best practices and ensuring that they are complying with requirements for non-discrimination. These include a requirement issued in 2011 by the Joint Commission, the largest accrediting body for U.S hospitals, calling on all accredited facilities to extend non-discrimination protection to LGBT patients. In addition, both the Joint Commission and the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services now require that facilities allow visitation without regard to sexual orientation or gender identity.
Baystate Health and Berkshire Medical Center were both congratulated for their efforts by HRC Health and Aging Director Shane Snowdon. “LGBT patients deeply appreciate the welcoming environment provided by a leader in LGBT healthcare equality. It makes a big difference to know that your local health facility is fully committed to giving you the same care it gives your neighbors and co-workers.”
Among the nine Baystate Health facilities again singled out for the honor were Baystate Medical Center, Baystate Mason Square Neighborhood Health Center, Baystate Brightwood Health Center, Baystate High Street Health Center – Pediatrics, and Baystate High Street Health Center – Adult Medicine, all in Springfield; Baystate Visiting Nurse Association & Hospice and the Baystate Regional Cancer Program, regional services; as well as Baystate Franklin Medical Center in Greenfield and Baystate Mary Lane Hospital in Ware.
Baystate and Berkshire are among a select group of 464 healthcare facilities nationwide to be named Leaders in LGBT Healthcare Equality. Facilities awarded this title meet key criteria for equitable care, including non-discrimination policies for LGBT patients and employees, a guarantee of equal visitation for same-sex partners and parents, and LGBT health education for key staff members.
All HEI Equality Leaders must document that they have adopted and publicized foundational policies for LGBT equity and inclusion, as well as having registered their staff for expert training in living out those policies to ensure truly LGBT patient-centered care.
The 2013 report details the results of the most recent Healthcare Equality Index, finding a 153{06cf2b9696b159f874511d23dbc893eb1ac83014175ed30550cfff22781411e5} v in rated facilities, totaling 718 nationwide. It also found an impressive 199{06cf2b9696b159f874511d23dbc893eb1ac83014175ed30550cfff22781411e5} increase in the number of facilities achieving the status of Leader in LGBT Healthcare Equality, special recognition given to facilities that earn a perfect rating by meeting four core criteria for LGBT patient-centered care in the areas of patient non-discrimination, visitation, employment non-discrimination, and training.
“A key goal for the HEI 2013 was to achieve participation from healthcare facilities in every state, and this goal was resoundingly achieved,” wrote Chad Griffin, HRC Foundation president, in the report. “We are particularly proud to report that this breakthrough was due in part to participation by 80{06cf2b9696b159f874511d23dbc893eb1ac83014175ed30550cfff22781411e5} of the medical centers in the Veterans Health Administration in the HEI 2013, with 76{06cf2b9696b159f874511d23dbc893eb1ac83014175ed30550cfff22781411e5} of them being awarded Equality Leader status.”

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